The Death of the Press – A Self-fulfilling Prophecy?

In our house, we jockey and scheme to lay first claim to each new issue of The Week magazine. We read it from cover to cover. We read it aloud to each other. We quote it and discuss it. We rip out pages and mail them or file them. This is a tri-generational affliction.

Meanwhile, the press is decrying the death of the press. 

I wondered if we, and everyone now addicted to The Week because of the many gift subscriptions we’ve given, represent some kind of anomaly, so I asked Eric Effron, Executive Editor of The Week. His response was most gratifying: “I am happy to say that as a business, The Week is doing remarkably well. Our circulation is now over 500,000 and continues to grow at a healthy clip.” Nice to see others recognize the value we appreciate.

The Week is succeeding because it follows an age-old rule:  provide value for which customers are willing to pay. Many other newspapers and magazines are folding because they provide what they have always provided despite the changing times. They haven’t determined what customers want and simply quake with fear at the changes brought by the Internet and recent generations tied to technology like never before.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with print media. I appreciate being able to tuck good material under my arm and carry it wherever I go, inside or out, without worrying about reflections, batteries, power cords, or a little drizzle. I am not alone. The only critical factor is the content of the print. Are you printing something people want to read? The Week wins because it has discovered a winning formula: concise, eclectic, wide-ranging perspectives, interesting, informative, international, fun and thorough, all handed to you on a silver platter once a week without having to waste time surfing, clicking, surfing, clicking, and being tied to your desk. What’s not to like?

I don’t believe many other print publications have truly revisited their value proposition and examined their market. For example, while The Week publishes succinct articles with an abundance of quotes, other publications adhere to a different age-old rule: 800 – 1200 words and 3 sources, neither of which guarantees value to paying customers. Many have physical formats that encourage verbosity in an age of hook or click.

I believe any print publication can survive, if not thrive. Print is not the problem. Providing content for which customers are willing to pay is the problem.

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